Niagara Falls could be making a controversial move in an effort to lower tax increases.
The city is considering slashing the number of officers in its police force, but some worry the plan of action could put the community’s safety on the line.
The Niagara Falls City Council voted to eliminate four police positions. Councilmember Kristen Grandinetti was the only member who voted against the move.
"If you diminish the force that we have and some people are forced to work overtime, first of all it's going to cost us a fortune in overtime, and secondly do you want an exhausted police officer on the job? I don't think so," said Grandinetti.
The cuts are part of the city’s ongoing budget discussions.
No one in the police department is being laid off, the officers all accepted incentives from the city to retire.
It’s not clear whether the city can count on casino revenue next year, so the council made $1.2 million dollars in cuts to Mayor Paul Dyster’s proposed budget.
With the current amendments, taxes would still go up in the Cataract City, but not as much as expected.
"We need to take care of our taxpaying citizens and we need to make the decisions that haven't been made in the past to get this budget back in order,” said Council Member Ezra Scott Junior.
Councilmember Scott wants to avoid raising taxes too much for businesses, saying it might push companies and jobs away from the city. He says the police department can move around existing officers to make up for the loss of jobs.
Niagara Falls Police Superintendent Bryan Dalporto was unavailable for comment, but he has told the Niagara Gazette that the move will make the city “less safe.” Grandinetti says the decision is irresponsible.
"The last thing that we need to do is fool around with our public safety. And I don't think the public wants that either," said Grandinetti.
It is now up to Mayor Dyster whether to accept the changes to the budget. Even if he vetoes the cuts to the police department, the council can still override that, if the four members who voted for the cuts in the first place, vote to keep them in the budget.